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Day workshops vs ‘Bite-size’ sessions


Depending on the content, are one or several days workshops outdated? I believe there is some scope for using a modular approach but is that the right way forward? I am specifically referring to soft skills and leadership/management development programmes.

The reason I have posted this question is that recently someone said to me "one day courses are so outdated" although there are organisations falling over themselves with this style of delivery.

I appreciate the biggest advantage is cost to the business in terms of people and travel etc.

I am interested in your thoughts on this.

Sophie Edmond

8 Responses

  1. matter cannot be created or destroyed…ditto the training cours

    I offer both and there are pro’s and con’s for each methodology. These are not the same for the deliverer as for the delegate or for the manager of the delegate.

    I think it is fair to say that many organisations are trying out bite size interventions and many are trying to avoid the several day workshops. The blended approach or prework, workshop, bitesize review session is a favourite of some of my clients.

    All this is the soft skills management development arena.

    As far as I can see (from my limited view as an independent) part of the problem for bite size is the trainer/travel/fee issue. A trainer doesn’t want to travel 200 miles to deliver a one hour session so the client tries to find several groups to have the same bite size session in the same day; the logistics become a nightmare. I think it is also fair to say that some delegates see missing a one hour session less of a crime than missing a day long session so you can also get a cancellation problem

    I hope this anecdotal comment helps.


  2. Best fit
    I am of the opinion that the person who said that one day workshops are outdated does not realy understand the issues.

    The factors that dictate training are training budgets, staff availabilty, overtime payments, previous experience, desired outcome, learning experience etc.

    I provide both types to my customers but I ensure that I help them select the best solution that fits them. Its not about what is the best type of training but the best solution to the training needs, indeed it may be that both types could be provided in the same solution

  3. is length of session important?
    As others have said it is different strokes for different folks.

    Bite-size are great as reminders or to create awareness, longer sessions are required to start building skills and habits. For some behaviour development programmes even 1 day is not long enough.

    The question is do you want to be seen to develop skills or do you want to develop skills – perception -v- reality


  4. “Posh” Beckham approach
    Sophie’s conversation with someone who stated that day workshops are “so outdated” smacks of the “Posh” Beckham approach to development. Its been around a long while, it works, it’s effective but hey lets ignore that and be seen to do something new and hip! Bite-size sessions are the new black. Fashionable but not always forgiving. Give it to me now generation.

    One of my clients has been using a five day workshop on leadership for two years and has just contracted for a further two years. They are a world leader in their field and results-driven, not mugs. They are continuing because of the great things the training has brought to their people and business.

    I, and no doubt you, have numerous other examples along the same lines in different industries. Some traditions still fit the bill if used properly.

    Even the big feller took six days to create the world; he did not do it in bite-size sessions.

  5. One day workshops
    Whilst one or several day workshops can be effective learners will suffer information overload.

    It is my opinion and experience that targeted training for short periods is more effective especially at clients premises

  6. Different methods for different purposes
    As for any other question about the ‘best’ training method, the choice depends on what you are trying to achieve. One-day or several-day session and bite-sized sessions simply achieve different things in different ways. The method(s) you choose should depend on both the aims of training and the context of delivery.

    Bite-sized session are excellent for reviewing, for learning by going over something several times, and for delivering short, focussed, primarily information-based (and certain skills-based) topics. They are particulary useful if distance or time constraints are significant issues.

    However, day sessions are more appropriate where important factors are networking, group exercises, discussion, dialogue with the trainer or just getting away from the work setting for a while to concentrate on something else. Some topics, particularly personal interaction-based skills, simply cannot effectively be taught using bite-sized methods. Sessions involving team-building, role play, feedback or generation of new ideas are also best done in a group.

    In most organisations, the best solution is often a blend of methods, with different topics being taught in different ways.

  7. Length of programmes
    Let me join in with the consensus view: 1 day events are not passe and different durations are needed for different purposes and contexts.
    I have done some research into the changes in programme durations over recent years. If going away to a provider, 2-3 days is the most common duration. For in-company programmes it is 1-2 days. This came down a lot in the late 1980’s and 1990s. Over the last couple of years it has levelled out.
    Longer programmes still exist – and thrive – for meatier topics, qualifications and where blended or modular events for part of a bigger whole.
    Shorter programmes require geographical proximity (eg you can pop down the corridor for an hour), a structure to the subject that can be broken into digestible chunks and where the dynamics of group learning are not crucial. As others have said, costs and logistics are also important.
    The ‘bite size’ term is currently vogue (though some of you may remember the phrase in a classic black and white Video Art film from the 1970s). Done well, such sessions are great and should be part of the mix. But I do worry that for some soft skills and certainly leadership development it can so easily drive you down the road of superficiality and DEMAND training (Done Everyone; Made Absolutely No Difference).
    If the person mentions it again ask them for the evidence, especially for where 7 one hour sessions proved to be more effective in delivering change than 1 one day event.

  8. What a great debate!
    Thank you everyone for your input which has been very useful. I’m sure that this topic will be discussed for a while yet.


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